Windham Hospital Joins the Governor’s Colon Cancer Initiative
WILLIMANTIC, CT, March 24, 2008 – March is Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month, and our Governor, the Honorable M. Jodi Rell, launched a state-wide campaign this month to aid in public education about the disease. Windham Hospital has joined the Governor in the attempt to promote increased awareness, by adding the Governor’s Colon Cancer Quiz onto the Hospital website (www.windhamhospital.org), and promoting cancer screening to staff and patients alike.
Colon cancer is the second leading cause of cancer-related death in the United States; in fact, more than 1,500 people in Connecticut will be diagnosed with colon cancer this year, and Governor Rell—herself a cancer survivor—wants people to know the facts about this preventable, curable disease. One easy way to learn more is to take the Governor’s Colon Cancer Challenge, the ten-question, multiple-choice online quiz posted on the Hospital’s website and published in newspapers statewide. Those who complete the questionnaire are entered into a drawing for one of 100 gift cards in the contest; the Challenge ends on April 15, 2008.
Although the statistics about the disease are alarming, colon cancer has a 95% cure-rate when detected early. A simple exam can identify the disease in early, treatable stages and put people back on the road to recovery. That exam is a 30-60 minute colonoscopy, used to screen patients beginning at the age of 50. Patients are given a very mild sedative for the procedure, and most resume regular activities shortly after the colonoscopy is performed. “The beauty of this test,” says Dr. Leszek Kolodziejczak, “is that it is minimally invasive, and provides so much information. We can detect polyps (growths that sometimes line the colon and can develop into cancer) and then remove them, thus preventing them from developing into cancer.”
According to Dr. Ajit Kokkat, a gastroenterologist who performs the procedure at Windham Hospital, lifestyle and diet can also contribute to the development of colon cancer; he cites studies that implicate red meats, heavy consumption of alcohol, and smoking. “Taking one low-dose aspirin every day will also lower your risk of polyp development and cancer,” he explains, “and there is some evidence that eating fish regularly lowers the risk of colon cancer.”
Windham Hospital is calling on local residents to take the Governor’s Colon Cancer Challenge Quiz, learn more about this disease, and make an appointment for cancer screening. “The life you save may be your own,” say physicians at Windham Hospital. Primary care providers throughout the region can refer patients to surgeons and gastroenterologists for the procedure. The physicians at Windham Hospital who perform colonscopies are Drs. Michael Butensky, Roger El-Hachem, David Kloss, Ajit Kokkat, Leszek Kolodziejczak, Herbert Ridyard, and Francis Siracusa. For physician referrals, people can also call the Windham Hospital Physician Referral Line at 860.456.6770.